The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted a wartime leader of Croatia's rebel Serbs of murder, torture and persecution Tuesday for a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign of non-Serbs in Croatia.
Judges said Serbian Milan Martic, 52, was responsible for hundreds of murders of non-Serbs from 1991 when Serbs in the Krajina region of northeastern Croatia rebelled and set up a breakaway ministate until 1995 when Croatian forces recaptured the area.
Martic was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
He also was convicted of ordering two days of indiscriminate cluster bomb shelling of the Croatian capital, Zagreb, in May 1995 that killed at least seven civilians and injured more than 200.
Most of the crimes were "committed against elderly people, persons held in detention and civilians. The special vulnerability of these victims adds to the gravity of the crimes," said presiding judge Bakone Moloto.
Martic stood still and showed no emotion as Moloto read out the verdict and his sentence.
The three-judge U.N. panel said Martic was deeply involved in a criminal plot with other Serb leaders including Slobodan Milosevic, Gen. Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic to carve out an ethnically pure "greater Serbia" as Yugoslavia crumbled that would include about one third of Croatia.
Last Mod: 12 Haziran 2007, 17:22